What is HIPAA?

To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Public Law 104-191, included Administrative Simplification provisions that required HHS to adopt national standards for electronic health care transactions and code sets, unique health identifiers, and security. At the same time, Congress recognized that advances in electronic technology could erode the privacy of health information. Consequently, Congress incorporated into HIPAA provisions that mandated the adoption of Federal privacy protections for individually identifiable health information.

  • HHS published a final Privacy Rule in December 2000, which was later modified in August 2002. This Rule set national standards for the protection of individually identifiable health information by three types of covered entities: health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers who conduct the standard health care transactions electronically.  Compliance with the Privacy Rule was required as of April 14, 2003 (April 14, 2004, for small health plans).
  • HHS published a final Security Rule in February 2003. This Rule sets national standards for protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information. Compliance with the Security Rule was required as of April 20, 2005 (April 20, 2006 for small health plans).

In Summary, HIPAA was enacted to

  • improve efficiency, ​
  • eliminate wastage, ​
  • combat fraud​
  • ensure information can be tied to an individual​
  • allow data to be identified as protected and kept confidential

HIPAA stipulated

  • allowable uses & disclosures of information, ​
  • restrict access to information ​
  • the right to obtain health data, check for errors & share information​
  • set standards for protecting health data to make it harder for health information to be accessed by individuals who had no right to view the information